One of the most fundamental of all rights is the right of self-defense. Every living creature has the natural right to defend self, family, and community. This right predates our Constitutions and even mankind itself. All animals and even plants exercise the right to defend themselves; most animals defend their family, many defend their community.
Mankind from its very beginning developed tools for every aspect of life. Humans used rocks, spears, swords, crossbows, and finally firearms for self-defense. Yes, a firearm IS a tool for self-defense. And it is by far the most effective defensive tool ever developed. It is the great equalizer, allowing the weak to defend against the strong, the unskilled against the skilled.
There are bad people who use a gun as an offensive weapon but there are far, far, far more people who use a gun to defend themselves, their families, and their communities against the bad people.
Most firearms are kept at home or business but many good people – in New Hampshire estimates are as high as 10-15% – carry a concealed weapon so that they can defend themselves and those around them against bad people wherever they happen to be. Concealed weapons in the hands of good people have stopped crimes before a single person was hurt, and have stopped small massacres before they became large massacres.
Concealed weapons are a bit heavy and uncomfortable. People carry weapons not because they want to be macho, but because they feel a duty to defend themselves and others around them. There are bad people out there who carry guns, knives, or just their fists. Good people carry guns to defend against the bad people.
The fastest growing group of gun owners is women. If you could check their purses, it is likely that you would find more than a few carrying a gun. One of the strongest opponents against “gun-free zones” is a woman who saw her parents shot down. She testified that she could easily have killed the gunman before he killed her parents and many other good people – but due to a “no guns allowed” sign she had left her gun in her car.
Gun-free zones do not stop bad people; the worst of the bad guys actually prefer gun-free zones because they know that nobody else will have a gun to stop the bad guy. These zones would better be called “self-defense-free zones” because the people in them cannot defend themselves or those around them.
You may have heard from some that they fear having guns around them. Are they equally afraid of guns in supermarkets, theaters, or the mall? Let there be no doubt that almost anywhere there are people, there are some bad guys with guns and there are good people with concealed weapons who are willing and able to defend against the bad guys.
Disarming the good people is not a good way to protect against the bad people. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody — except bad people.
(An edited version of this post was published in The Concord Monitor, December 30, 2012.)